The Season Is About To Start…

Indeed, it’s time for the season to kick off this Saturday as we head to Goodison Park for what should be a mouthwatering encounter with a very self believing Everton side.

As Arsene mentioned yesterday, there will be no new signings before the opening game of the season and now we’ll have to think who will play and how we will play. We’ve been running with a 4-3-3 pre-season and it has its merits and it’s pitfalls. Personally, I’m not a fan of the 4-3-3 because it reminds me too much of a 4-5-1 and in the games against various teams in pre-season, it has been such. I’m a fan of a 4-4-2 with two strikers playing at all times.

The 4-3-3 has it merits as it allows us to accommodate two “inside forwards” such as Arshavin and Walcott. Additionally, it allows our midfield to be more dominating. However, I don’t think we’ve really lacked in our dominating of midfield, more over, we have lacked in our defensively stability and inability to put the ball in the back of the net. A player like Arshavin may thrive in a 4-3-3, but the same player may also thrive in a 4-4-2 as one of the strikers or a left winger. Where I see some positives, I also see some negatives. In my ideal Arsenal team, I don’t see play 3 midfielders such as Cesc, Denilson, Song is every game will benefit us long term. I really think playing two out of the five available to us (if you include Ramsey and Diaby) will be suitable.

I think playing four attacking players is all about what Arsenal are, have been and should be in the future. And I see these attacking players as a way of life, a way of playing our game. Whether the attacking players are deployed in a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, I do not mind, but we must not reduce our attack to three players.

Let me explain a bit more about what I’m trying to get to. Arshavin, Van Persie, Bendtner, Eduardo, Walcott, Vela, Rosicky and Nasri are attacking players. As much as Arsene would have us believe, Cesc Fabregas is not an attacking player, is is a midfielder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he doesn’t get forward. But an attacking player in my eyes is a player who is comfortable in the final third positionally, a player who can either play on the wings or up front. And the same goes for Diaby – he is not an attacking player in the sense of a formation. Yes, both players can get forward but they should not be considered for striker or “in the hole” roles. So when we fielded Arshavin, Van Persie and Bendtner against Valencia, we were less attacking than we should have been – mainly because we had Diaby, Cesc and Denilson behind them.

Arsene, if you want, play 4-3-3, 4-4-2, or even 4-5-1, but at least have 4 players on the pitch who go forward. My view is that
okay, we’re going with 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1, then play players who work in this formation together.

A decent 4-2-3-1 would be:


Sagna – Vermaelen – Gallas – Clichy

Cesc – Song

Walcott – Van Persie – Arshavin


That would accommodate players in their best positions whilst not sacrificing the four attacking players on the pitch.

My fear is that players like Bendtner will play out of position on the wing and players like Eboue will play as attacker (as seen against Athletico Madrid)… A team like ours is simply geared for having 4 attacking players. Maybe Arsene hand will be forced as Rosicky and Nasri are out and he may prefer one of them in the hole.

It’s going to be an interesting start at Everton and they are certainly going to be a test. There will be a debate on whether or not Vermaelen should start or whether Djourou will get the nod – both ready and available – who would you have start?

Over in the wonderful world of transfers, there seems to be no movement for Chamakh, with Bordeaux saying this:

I have not had any sign of life from Arsenal. I am waiting. If Arsene Wenger really wants Marouane, I suppose he will finally get in touch. Contrary to what has been said, I am not aware of a €9million offer. Will Chamakh stay one more season? I don’t know. In front of me I have a player that wants to leave.

And news is that West Ham are prepared a £12m bid for the striker, which could supper our Summer plans, as I do think Arsene wants Chamakh to join us and I do think he’ll be willing to spend around 9 million euros. For a player with only one year left on his contract, it is a significant amount and a sign that Arsene does want the player.

A player who will not being joining us is Patrick Vieira who today publicly announced he was going to stay at Inter Milan. It’s a strange one, as the player would surely have been useful in and around the squad and wouldn’t have been too expensive to get in. It does make me wonder whether Arsene has someone lined up for this role, or whether he’s going to get into September without any reinforcements in this area.

So, there we are, we’re going with what we’ve got and we’ve got 4 strikers at the helm, only 2 wingers available at the moment, both whom want to be strikers… 5 central midfielders, 4 central defenders (and Senderos is still around) as well as three left backs and two right backs. We’ve got a squad that can go to Everton and win and it’s going to be a big test come next Saturday whether we’re up for it and whether our new formation will work. We can’t afford to drop points on the opening day of the season, so let’s get behind the team and see what Arsene has in store!

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  • Al

    Team to start on saturday

    sagna. Djouro. Gallas. Clichy


    febregas denilson
    bendtner arshavin
    Van p

    anyone know what channel england u21s is on.
    If its on at all

  • devday

    Can’t seem to find the England Under 21 game at all.

    In terms of line up for Saturday, if no injuries, then I think you’re right!

  • hello

    Al… I agree with the line-up too…

    1-0 down at half time, Bendtner having a shocker, whilshere comes on at half time… 1-3 full time!!

  • Francis

    i think wenger will play diaby instead of denilson just because of the overall height of the team and the threat that everton pose from set pieces…
    vermaelen may be set to watch from the sidelines…will be backup if needed

    when the going gets tough dont be surprised to see traore on the left side of midfield to whip crosses in for bendtner….

  • Leeroy.N

    I think Bendter will play just behind Van Persie. As much as I would love Eduardo to start. There is still alot of protection going to be put around the likes of him, Rosicky and Nasri when fit. They wont make the mistake of rushing players back or playing them too much. They will become impact players off the bench until they are 200% fit! But that team looks pretty much spot on. It would pick a team very similar I think. If we give players such as Arshavin and Walcott enough creative freedom.. to roam either side and through the middle it will create some panic and confusion. We need to mix up our whole approach this season and give teams something to think about. But it’s important to keep Bendtner upfront and centre to use his strength and height.

  • VJ

    i just hope we get a confident start, after all the hhype and players leaving an early goal and lead in the first half could be all we need. Our players need the confidence and belief they had when we went over 20 games unbeaten, Wenger will know whether to buy theres still over 15 days Wenger only made the arshavin signing on the last day and so i expect Chamakh and maybe Hangeland will be done that late, hope we find a defensive mid though now that matuidi and vieira are out

  • hosea

    am really glad to hear u from this.woow thats so incredible but will this formation actually work for us coming this saturday at the goodison park?

  • Justin

    Djorou has been injured during international duty according to various reports.. He has returned to London to be examined by the Arsenal medical team..

    So its gonna be Gallas and Silvestre at the central defence against Everton, with Vermaelen on the bench!!!

  • Justin

    I just wonder how does only Arsenal players get injured during International duty…
    Am sure a couple more of them will be joining Djorou on the sidelines once they are back!!!

  • Roachy

    VJ, I’d prefer Song to Silveste any day of the week. Song has pace about him.

  • jeffvip

    Song is a defensive midfielder for now… Denilson simply cant play at that position… maybe Senderos… HAHAHA

  • VJ

    I dont know how serious Djourou’s injury is but surely if it is anything mare than two weeks it will be enough to spen 15 million on Hangeland and I think Vermaelen will start , silvestre is too prone to the high ball and with people with Fellani and Jo we need defenders with some spring like Vermaelen, plus who knows Swnderos might play him being quite tall

  • AJ

    @ Justin, its not just us, you can expect Torres to get injured with Spain, happens every time!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    Arsenal are on the trail of 6ft 4in Borussia Dortmund centre-back Neven Subotic, with chief executive Ivan Gazidis ready to make a £12m offer for the 20-year-old Serb who is also attracting interest from Everton.

  • Marc Callan

    If they buy the Serb and the Norwegian I think professor Wenger will get rid of Big Phil and Silvestre…only my opinion

    Gooner Til I Die

  • Debs

    Great article, this, about Hleb on leaving Arsenal:

    If Arsene Wenger is on the look-out for a PR man to promote the virtues of staying loyal to the Arsenal cause, he could do worse than handing the position to former Gunners midfielder Alex Hleb.

    That statement may seem a little odd when you consider Hleb was one of those who came to the conclusion that Wenger’s unshakable conviction that success can flow without signing star names is a doomed policy, when he decided to swap North London for Barcelona last summer.

    After proving himself in the Premier League, the chance to join one of the true giants of the world game proved too tempting for Hleb and yet the Belarusian now reflects on the decision as one of the worst of his career.

    Going from a first team starter in a side whose place in the Champions League has been assured for over a decade to being a permanent bench warmer in Spain was a major comedown for Hleb and his fall from grace was confirmed when he was offered as a make-weight in the transfer that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrive at the Nou Camp from Inter Milan.

    As it turns out, Hleb opted for a return to former club Stuttgart ahead of a switch to join Jose Mourinho at the San Siro, yet the mere fact that he is back at the club where his rise to stardom began at the start of the decade confirms his career has taken a sideways step and he puts that down to his decision to walk away from Arsenal.

    “Of course I regret leaving Arsenal,” begins an honest Hleb. “I was playing every week for one of the most exciting sides in Europe, a team which was always in the top-four in the Premier League and were Champions League contenders.

    “Also, I was being guided by one of the best coaches in the world in Arsene Wenger. I owe him a great deal. I developed a better all-round game under him and I became more robust physically, learnt to look up more and play better passes and generally improved greatly as a team player. No player ever gets worse under Wenger.

    “Obviously, I still look out for Arsenal each week and I hope they can do well this time. I think they will be in the top-four again and could even push for the title if they don’t have the terrible injuries of last season. People forget the long unbeaten run they had after Christmas last season, which was a good sign for this season.

    “For me, leaving Arsenal was not a good move. A footballer only exists when he takes to the field and makes a proper contribution to the team and even though I was part of a Barca squad that was almost unstoppable, it was hard not to feel detached from all the happiness and celebration at the end.

    “Barca were my dream club as a kid, but I couldn’t continue with them if the chance to play was not coming. I’m 28 and who knows how much time I’ve left in the game. I needed to move on and the chance to go back to a place that I feel happy in was the best solution.”

    In many ways, Hleb was the Wenger’s ideal player. Comfortable on the ball and bursting with invention, his breaking runs from the midfield fitted neatly into a side that have the ability and class to pick out a player who times his charge to perfection. As it turned out, one of the few men Wenger has spent big money on in recent years probably caught the eye a little too much at Arsenal as he attracted the attentions of Barcelona as a result.

    Now Hleb insists he is happy to be back in Germany and explains the chance to rejoin Stuttgart was more appealing than switch to Italy that was being forced upon him. “It was more a pro-Stuttgart than an anti-Inter decision,” he explains. “I was coming off the back of a season almost entirely spent on the bench at Barca and just wanted to go to a team where I was completely comfortable and could play regularly.

    “I had five very happy years at Stuttgart and know the club well, so no one needed to tell me how ambitious they are. If all goes according to plan, we will qualify for the Champions League and should be able to challenge for the Bundesliga title.

    “I needed to bounce back at the first possible opportunity and returning to Stuttgart is a low-risk way of setting about it as this club is like home to me. Even though Bayern Munich showed interest in me and I was tempted, Stuttgart’s offer overrode everything.”

    New Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel has certainly pulled off a transfer coup in bring Hleb back to the club and the midfielder admits the presence of his former team-mate played a role in his decision to return. “I played alongside him during my first spell at Stuttgart and he struck me then as a super pro, someone with great footballing instincts, who thought deeply about the game,” he says.

    “I’m not surprised he has turned out to be a good coach and all the players here are left in no doubt as to what is expected of us. We know who is in charge, but somehow he manages to have a close relationship with us. All the players feel important, from the senior man to the youth team graduate.


    The midfielder spent time on the sidelines last year.

    “Obviously, people doubt Stuttgart now that Mario Gomez has left because he was a goal machine, but we still have plenty of attacking options and I don’t think goals will be an issue. This is an attack-minded side and my job is to make sure the front-men are well supplied with chances.”

    Hleb has been reunited with former Arsenal team-mate Jens Lehmann at Stuttgart and insists the veteran keeper still has plenty to offer at the top level. “I always got on well with Jens,” he states. “People see the intense guy on the pitch and assume he’s the same away from the stadium.

    “He was one of the most important players at Arsenal and it’s similar at Stuttgart. Jens means leadership and the will to win. Even at 40, he’s not lost his reflexes or his command of the box.”

    Barcelona target Cesc Fabregas is among those who could look at Hleb’s situation and come to the conclusion that leaving Arsenal is not always the best way to take a step forward in your career. While Wenger’s side do not look likely to be challenging for too many trophies in the coming months at this moment in time, this is a manager whose powers of reinvention should never be under-estimated.

    With Hleb clearly longing for the days when he pulled on the red of Arsenal, you have to wonder why Wenger was not tempted to bring him back to London this summer, yet the Arsenal boss seems unwilling to dip back into history. As Gunners legend Patrick Vieira discovered last week, Arsenal comebacks are not something Wenger seems content to sanction.

  • Adeniyi

    I will go more with the formation of Devday as it all the players there are very much comfortable. No matter the team that plays on saturday though.. I hope we will win. and I expect a victory. Gunner 4 life




    walcott van persie

  • VJ

    Neven Subotic has denied reports suggesting we are not making a move just yet. It seems these days that all other clubs just wait for Wenger to inquire for a player and then move in with big money and tempt them away from Arsenal. Juventus only moved for Melo after us. Sunderland West Ham and Blackburn were only interested in Chamakh after us. Sunderland signed Cana only after our interest. It is getting frustating that clubs sign all the players we look out for only because they know Wenger has an incerdible eye we really need to respond back soon otherwise…

  • Fabrez

    Thx as always 4 the article dev & interesting read debs!

  • Berth

    VJ – At least it shows people regard Wenger’s choice highly, and people also know financially they could match Arsenal at the moment, hence this s*** happening. Seems like Wenger is a coach-scout now.

  • Leeroy.N

    I hear on the grapevine Djourou and Walcott are carrying slight injuries. Rumours? Or ploys to get them out of International Duties. Haha! Lets hope the Latter.

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • VJ

    I agree with u Leeroy hope it is the later interesting bout Bentner’s number is it a hint at adebayor’s old number, 25 to 52 hoping to get that target man or a target for the number of goals! either wat its nice of him to offer refunds shows great character. Putting aside transfer talk our squad needs to be focused for the next game, both managers want to prove a point on lack of spending (the other being moyes) and we can get through winnig all our first four games everton, pompey, man city, and man u then that will really send a message plus once again the possibility of a defensive mid coming in hoping not the curse it but we could be the invincibles again

  • Pete

    Credit to Hleb for being man enough to admit his move from Arsenal was a mistake. He was a good player for us, and I think his experience with Barca is a bit of a warning sign to players like Cesc not to take first team football at a top club for granted.

    Speaking of Hleb, I do hope we manage to sign Chamakh as I feel he has similar attributes to the Belarussian good dribbling/hold up play, helps bring others into the game, yet Chamakh has a better goal scoring record. Also at the moment I’d prefer him up front to Bendtner.

    But our defence is still a priority, and I hope thats strengthend too, whether thats a DM, Centreback, or both.

  • Leeroy.N

    With Bendtner (for me) it’s his work rate I feel lets him down. I feel he could be so much better for us if he was to concentrate that little bit more. He like to play just off the other striker and he gets back and defends as much as he can, which is admirable. Infront of goal he could be more clinical, leaving that extra touch (or pass)and going for goal. He tends to be caught out wide left or right, then after a couple of plays and passes he is still there, instead of being in the box where he should really be. Whether that is down to where has been told be (coach’s and Wenger) or where he may “feel” more comfortable, at the end of the day he is a striker and he has to be either scoring more or assisting more. I know he is capable of more goals. He was impressive for us off the bench last year no question, the numbers say so. This is his biggest and most defining year of his career, it’s do or die for him I feel. We have to remember he isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future and he is still an Arsenal player and maybe our number 2/3 striker, no matter who is fit or who we bring in. We have to back him and give him all the support he needs when he plays and hopefully he will repay the faith to us and Wenger.

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • Gooner Get Ya

    I still don’t understand why we hold out until the last minute of the window, does the player price drop that much?

    Didn’t AW say he wanted all signings completed before pre-season so they can gel together, so this was either a shrewd tactic or just an outright lie?

    At the end of last season we needed IMO a CB(for cover) and a DM(first team) to get us into a better position for this up and coming season. Since the end of last season we have seen both Ade and Toure leave, thus upping the requirements to 2 CB(1 cover and 1 first team), a DM(first team) and a FWD(cover, as Edu is now fit…ish).

    We have addressed 1 CB position. So we still need 3 more players…1 CB(cover/first team depending on AW’s assessment of Vermaelen), 1 DM(first team) and 1 FWD(cover).

    CB = Subotic/Hangeland
    DM = M.Diarra/Veloso/Inler/Ever Bangera…???
    FWD = Chamakh/Dzeko/Gignac

  • Yemi

    I have been trying to post comments since morning to no avail!!!!

  • Yemi

    My formation for saturday below i.e if vermaleen or djourou are not fit, i will go for senderos. If clicjy is not yet fit, i will go for gibbs, and if eduardo is not fit, i will go for nicky.


    Sagna – senderos- Gallas – Clichy

    Cesc – Song
    Walcott – Van Persie – Arshavin

  • Leeroy.N

    YEMI – That looks about right, depending on injuries. I think Eduardo and Denilson will come on off the bench. If we can get a good early foot hold in the game, we will win. A nice positive start. Come on you Gunners!

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • VJ

    Yeah guys but i still think eduardo should start my team would be
    SAgna Gallas Vermaelen Clichy

    Song Fabregas
    Walcott Van Persie Arshavin


    Eduardo might not be tall but he’s clever and a good reader of the game plus he’s got spring we saw him against valencia reaching the ball in corners his link up play and phenominal finishing should surely tip him above bentner plus bentner can play his impact sub should we need him

  • Marc Callan

    Is it only me Otis anyone else sick and tired of the skysports analysts predicting Manchester City getting fourth at the expense of Arsenal…last time I checked I have never known 11strikers to win the epl let alone get in the top 4…Gods honest truth if these predictations don’t give the lads a boost to prove the critics wrong I don’t know what will…at the end of the season and if we did win the league (touching wood) I would want Cesc or someone to day something about it…what do you’s think???

  • VJ

    I agree Marc most people dont realize that Hughes is not a big time manager and therefore cant gel those players together plus thei defense is more vulnerable than ours in my opinion all this media is just detiriorating the confidence in our players its high time for everyone to just shut up and let the football do the talking

  • Leeroy.N

    It does come down to the players performances on the pitch and Manager and coach’s training. With the players we have got and the experience of them playing with each, we know we can make the Top 4. That’s including interantional absentees, injuries and still resting first team players for cup games, giving the young ones a good run-out. Man Citeh have alot more to do than just playing well, front to back. Other than them all having to get they have brought in alot of international first team players, injury plaugued player (along with the ones they already have, and players with alot of baggage with even bigger ego’s. Hughes has a seriously difficult job ahead of him. We on ther other side know what we can do, what needs to be done and how it could be changed. Top 4 is ours and for a long time I feel. We havent lost a player this year who was integral to us getting 4th last year IMO. Sky Sports, as much as I love the channel are just making themselves look good while they have nothing really important to tell us about. I just can’t wait til we prove them wrong.. once again!!

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • Bonathan

    Yes, Man City MAY need time to gel. However, they may not. What’s for sure is they do have the quality and squad size to run riot, especially since they don’t have europe as a distraction. If we are relying on Man City needing time to gel to save our 4th spot instead of looking to finish higher then it is a really sad state of affairs and does not bode well at all.

    We could realistically aim a lot higher with the right additions. However, it is looking increasingly unlikely that they are going to arrive. I seem to remember being in this situation last season.

    Basically, at CB we have one proven world class CB who is now probably past his best and quite injury prone. One guy who hopefully will be world class but will need time to adapt to the prem and let’s face it, is an unknown quantity. One good young defender who is improving but should still just be regarded as a decent back up for now. Mikael Silvestre, who is an absolute liability. Senderos is on his way, and we need song in midfield as he’s our only DF option and unproven at CB if we’re honest.

    In terms of DM’s, we have Song, who I thought came on tremedously last season and is a great asset to the squad, but is still improving and wenger says himself that he sees him as a CB. And possibly Diaby?? Who, I thought would play that position, but wenger seems to play him in either a wide role or a more attacking central role. Both of which he looks out of place by the way. Compare these to hargeaves, essien, mascherano and they are simply not in the same league and maybe won’t ever be.

    Up front, we do seem to have a few options but the worrying thing for me is. The very worrying thing. Is that, yes we have two world class strikers in Van Persie and Eduardo, but there is a good chance, given the injury history of these players, that there will be at least one long stretch of games where we will have neither. I find this extremely worrying since I do not rate Bentner (who has his head in his hands at least 3 times a game from making terrible mistakes, count it if you don’t believe me, every game) and the promising but still fairly unproven Vela. Yes we have walcott and arshavin but neither are out and out strikers and will potentially be needed in midfield in any case

    We are walking a fine line.

  • Yemi

    agree with u Bonathan

  • VJ

    Here’s a player id like to see at arsenal Toulalan. Reasons why hes appealing to wenger.
    Hes French
    He is a shy guy and lets his football do the talking
    He is quality with plenty of experiance at 25 years
    He is a great leader
    He is not that expensive
    He is exactly what we need

  • Leeroy.N

    BONATHAN – Very true. But we lost to teams such as Fulham 0-1, Hull 2-1, Stoke 2-1, Villa 2-0 and Citeh themselves 3-0. While in between those matches we beat Man U and Chesea 2-1 scoring for goals at Sp*rs even though we got the draw and another draw at Liverpool. Now I’m not suggesting we should’nt ever lose against lower table team, but our rollercoaster life in the table proves just because you have “world class” players doesnt mean you will win every game, nor does it mean you will lose just because you dont have them. We lost to teams who done their homework, didn’t stop fighting and wanted the the win more than our players did. Teams play that little bit harder when they see us. It means more to a team who can beat us rather than Chelsea, Liverpool or United. They seem to see us as a stepping block or a weaker of the top for.. when we are just as capable and as powerful than them, the head to head recored shows that last season. Only as the season wore on and injuries and tiredness took it’s toll did we begin to fade. I really believe we can go far this season, with a litle bit of luck and some REAL hard work front to back. Optimistic I know without new signings (we have no control over it either way), so someone has to be. HAHA!

    Gooner Til I Die!!!

  • Kuka

    …A couple of weeks ago Ferguson stated that building a team is much more than buying players. Its always a great thing to add and strengthen the squad, but let us face it, it does take time for one to fit in. Arshavin is an exception than the rule. According to Ferguson and which I do agree, a team that has played together for a long time tends to be much stronger, resilient than one that keeps bringing in new players every season.

    Arsenal might not have the big names that the other big four do, but they do have a team that has played together now for close to 4 seasons. They have gone through frustrations and failures together. They know what it means to come so close, yet remain quite far. I was listening to young Gibbs on ATVO and he echoed the same.

    Where am I headed with this?…..All am saying is that, indeed trophies have been elusive to the Arsenal FC and it is true that we need to strengthen certain areas of our squad. But…But the asset of this team is the longevity of having played together. When those trophies start trickling in, this is a team that could conquer the league for a long long long time.

    ….assuming that Wenger signs NO one, I am looking forward…to the season knowing quite well that Wenger and the squad know each other quite well. Like said already, the players know what they need to do and areas that need change….

  • VJ

    Just heard on eurosports that apparantly the Norwegian press will release a statement saying Hangeland will join arsenal before the end of the weekend! more gossip? or is this serious certainly showing signs that things are picking up for us it is anyway food for thought before the big clash on saturday hope no one gets injured

  • Leeroy.N

    KUKA – Agreed and well put matey.

    VJ – I hope we do get him and the few other crucial signings. I trust something will come good out of this tranfer window. Fingers crossed.

    Gooner Til I Die!

  • JDD

    according to wikipedia we have signed hangeland it is probably incorrect but if it is i still think we will buy him this transfer window.

  • devday

    I wouldn’t believe anything in Wiki as it’s editable by people, but let’s hope it was edited by Arsene lol

  • ElSmid

    If Eduardo’s fit he’s got to play. He’l score a load of goals this season if he gets a proper rund and can stay injury free.

    My team for Sat;

    Sagna Vermaelen Gallas Clichy

    Song Fabregas
    Walcott Van Persie Arshavin


    I see Eduardo is 33/1 to be Top Goalscorer. What?

    With the number of chances we create that looks like a stand-out bet for the season.